About Rob

About West Mansion | About Rob

So just who am I, exactly? I've been called everything from "the one-man Splatterpedia" to "the Splatterhouse guy" to "a genuine Rush scholar" to "never let this man tell you a joke" and plenty of other things I can't remember right now, other than "hey you."

I'm a rock and metal fan. I'm a die-hard Indiana Jones fan. I mainly enjoy adventure, comedy, action and sci-fi films. I love classic television sitcoms. I enjoy tinkering with things. I can quote classic Simpsons episodes and Homestar Runner without even thinking about it sometimes. I try to be as honest as possible and give credit where credit is due.

I'm one of the elder gamers out there. I'm in my late forties, I'm a grandfather, and I've been playing videogames since my parents were given a Rally IV standalone Pong clone by my brother in the late '70s. I grew up with the Atari 2600, then later moved on to the Atari 7800, NES, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Turbografx-16 and Super NES, all of which I got to experience by the time I graduated high school. I was also an avid arcade-goer for the longest time.

I kept playing as I got older. The Saturn, Dreamcast, PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 were my newer consoles of choice. Nowadays, I jump across all the consoles I mentioned whenever I need a gaming fix, which isn't as often as I'd like. There are many series I like, Splatterhouse is just one of them. There's also Castlevania, Gradius, Contra, Strider, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Shinobi, Metal Slug, Ninja Gaiden and far too many more to go into here - and then there's the single games that aren't part of a series. There's way too many of those to talk about here.

Of course, I've been a videogame fansite webmaster. If you haven't realized this by now, I don't know what to tell you. You may remember the first two sites I linked to above, The OPCFG and The Ghoul Realm, but do you remember my ancient Metal Slug fansite, Iron Cavalrymen in Hell (archived here for historical purposes)? I wouldn't be surprised if the answer is no.

I'm also an author, of sorts. I've authored or co-authored three books: Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman (2014) (available in print or as an ebook), Hardcore Gaming 101 Digest Vol. 3: The Guide to Retro Horror (2018) and Tales From The Third Moon (2021).

Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman & Tales From The Third Moon artwork by James Beaver; The Guide to Retro Horror artwork by Rusty Shackles

I've also contributed to several other books, among them several of the books in the Hagen's Alley line (The Nintendo Entertainment System Compendium, The Super Nintendo Compendium and The Complete SNES), the Brett Weiss books The SNES Omnibus Volume 1 and Volume 2, and I was also an early contributor to Little Player magazine.

My connection with Splatterhouse goes back many, many years, back to the summer of 1990. I wrote about it in Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman, but I'd like to reprint that here, along with some additional material, in a three-part story I've called...

Splatterhouse Was Good To Me

Part I: Welcome to West Mansion

At my house in 1990, the Genesis reigned supreme, followed closely by the NES. My brother and I had owned our Genesis for several months at this point, and even though we didn't own too many games for it, we were always renting games at the local mom-n-pop video store, Video Plus. It was right down the road, and they got new games in every week. They also had a massive NES selection, so we were in hog heaven, figuratively speaking. My new friend Marc was keeping me supplied with all sorts of Sega Master System games to try out on our recently acquired Power Base Converter, and let's not forget the ever-present Atari 7800 with our library of games. When it came to gaming, we were covered.

I was an avid reader of Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro, Game Players Magazine and Video Games & Computer Entertainment around this time too, and in every issue of each mag they would show previews and reviews of games for the Turbografx-16, Sega's major competition in the 16-bit arena at the time. I had been intrigued by the system ever since first reading about it in the fall of '89 in Game Players, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to try one for myself yet. As I knew my parents weren't going to break down and buy us yet another two hundred dollar videogame system, I decided just to read the previews and reviews, but not give it much thought otherwise.

That all changed when our friend Quincy came to visit us that year. I was out getting my hair cut when he arrived, and I came home to find he and my best friend Chris playing some 16-bit game that looked familiar. I knew I had seen it before, but I also knew it wasn't a Genesis game. That's when I got a look at the system that was sitting there: an odd looking black unit that proudly had the Turbografx-16 logo emblazoned on it.

“You got a Turbografx?” I asked Quincy as I joined them.

“Yeah,” he said, reaching into his bag and pulling out the four games he had for it: Bonk's Adventure, Ninja Spirit, Victory Run, and the box for the game they were playing, Keith Courage in Alpha Zones. Ninja Spirit's cover art alone intrigued me, as after playing The Revenge of Shinobi and Ninja Gaiden, I'd become a big fan of ninja games. Over the next few hours, we tried out all four games. Ninja Spirit was phenomenal, just as I'd hoped; Bonk was pretty good; Keith Courage was interesting; and to be honest, Victory Run didn't impress me at all.

Quincy stayed with us for the entire summer. One day, he and my brother had gone out with my parents to the mall and Toys 'R Us, and when they came back they each had a new game. My brother had a new Genesis game, and Quincy had a new Turbografx game. He ran into our room, popped it into the system and turned on the power. “So what did you get?” I asked as I entered the room.

Little did I know at the time that my life was about to change forever.

He tossed me the box. On the cover was some kind of hulking humanoid figure, with a bag over his head and chainsaws in place of hands. He appeared to be fighting... Jason Voorhees? It couldn't be, because “Jason” had a wooden 2x4 in his hands, and judging by the way he had it raised to strike, he was about to give Chainsaw Hands the worst beating of its undead life. They appeared to be in some kind of a haunted house or an abandoned building. There was a blood splotch on the lower left hand corner of the cover that advised us that “the horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children... and cowards.”

The title, which was written in red blood and green slime, oozed its way down the front of the box, combining and congealing to form the game’s title: Splatterhouse.

I was now officially interested in this game. Despite not caring for horror films or novels, I had a fascination with horror-themed games like the NES Castlevania trilogy, Ghouls 'N Ghosts, and the Atari 2600 games Haunted House & Ghost Manor. Immediately I sat down on the bed and watched the game unfold before me. “Jason”, as I soon discovered, was actually parapsychology student Rick Taylor. He was trapped in West Mansion, once owned by the mysterious Dr. West, and was searching for his girlfriend Jennifer with the aid of the Terror Mask, an ancient artifact that gave him tremendous power. With each zombie Quincy smashed into the wall and each horrifying surprise he uncovered, the more mesmerized I became.

Then it was my turn.

By the time my game was over, I knew I was going to have to get a Turbo at some point just so I could own Splatterhouse. I liked the game so much that I even dressed up as Rick for Halloween that year, the last time I would ever dress up in a costume and go trick-or-treating. I got one of Dad's old blue work shirts and cut it up appropriately, then grabbed a pair of old blue jeans. After that, I bought a cheap Jason Voorhees mask—but since the TurboGrafx-16 port was the only version of Splatterhouse I was familiar with, I had to paint it red. The only problem was that I had no paint, so I improvised. I borrowed a bottle of red nail polish from my sister and went to work. In the end, the costume didn't look half bad. It's just too bad that I got so hot wearing the mask that I had to take it off halfway through trick-or-treating.

My desire to own the game was increased when, during a trip to Universal Studios Florida in 1991 with Chris, I stumbled across the original arcade game sitting in the back of one of the arcades. There were no indications at the time that there would ever be a Splatterhouse game for the Genesis, so getting a Turbo became a top priority of mine. I wouldn't succeed in getting one of my own until early '93, when I was working full-time and the systems were suddenly being put on clearance everywhere. I was happy to finally have a Turbografx-16 of my own, and the first game I bought for it was Splatterhouse. At last I had my own copy of the original. By then, Namco had released Splatterhouse 2 for the Genesis, which I also had. I was thrilled to have both Splatterhouse games at last.

Little did I know what awaited me less than a year later. Namco surprised everyone by releasing the third and last installment in the series, Splatterhouse 3, for the Genesis. It was quite a bit different from the first two games as far as gameplay was concerned, but it was a solid title and a welcome addition to my collection. To obtain it, I did something some might consider extremely stupid: I traded my entire Game Gear collection for it. I think I made out in the long run though, as I rarely played my Game Gear, but I play Splatterhouse 3 quite often.

That was the end of Splatterhouse for the forseeable future, although no one knew that at the time. I thought I'd played all the Splatterhouse games there were, but there was something lurking in Japan that I wouldn't get to experience for another eight years. And when I did, it inspired me to do something I'd wanted to do ever since I'd discovered the internet.

Part II: Going Global

And then for a long time, nothing happened. Splatterhouse had been abandoned by Namco, left to rot as the evolution of consoles continued. Sure, a rumor would occasionally pop up in one of the many video game magazines that Namco was considering reviving the series, but that's all they were - rumors.

By 2001, I had made something of a name for myself in the growing video game fanscene with my first website, the OPCFG, which I'd started in 1998. But as time went on and I began to see shrines to different game series popping up here and there, I began to actively search for websites devoted to my favorite series. I found a few, like Gradius and Strider, but when it came to series like Ghosts 'N Goblins and Splatterhouse, I couldn't find anything.

Finally, I decided that if they didn't exist, I'd have to make them myself.

What jumpstarted West Mansion was an auction win on eBay that year. Years earlier, I remember seeing a listing for a Splatterhouse game for the Famicom in a newsletter for the Ultimate Game Club, but one without pictures or any other information. Later, when I first began discovering emulation, I finally got to see this mysterious Splatterhouse Famicom game in action, and since I could play imports, I decided I had to get a copy. I managed to do so (paying around $50 for a CIB copy - including the stickers), and after playing through it, decided that the world needed to know more about it. So I put together a basic website that covered the original three games and the Famicom game and posted it on Geocities. I then submitted it to Classic Gaming[dot]com for hosting. They agreed, as long as I updated the design to an actual design instead of just text on a background. I enlisted a friend to help me out, and West Mansion: The Splatterhouse Homepage went live on July 24, 2001.

When the announcement was made on Classic Gaming's home page, the hits started coming. Splatterhouse fans from around the world started sending all sorts of submissions, including information, scans, fanart, and so much more. At the same time, I decided to join a Splatterhouse Yahoo! Group to talk up the site and connect with even more fans. I also met a fellow Splatterhouse webmaster, who was also a member of this group.

Things went downhill in this group pretty quickly. The webmaster in question, whose site I had no idea existed until then, already had a bit of a grudge against me for securing Classic Gaming hosting first. Second, the admins running this group I came to call the "Splatterhouse World Council," because they seemed to have in mind that what anyone did with their websites needed to be cleared through them first because it affected "the community" as a whole.

Everything came to a head when I started up my old "Splatterhouses" petition to get the original four games released on a compilation disc and added a few new sections to West Mansion. My fellow webmaster accused me of ripping off his ideas and proceeded to tear me a new one, and the World Council gave me a stern talking to for not getting their permission before I created the petition. Naturally, I was pissed off. I was doing my own thing, as I always have, and just because these guys decided to appoint themselves the guardians of the franchise, they felt they could dictate what I could do with my site. So after some very heated exchanges, I left the group and forged ahead on my own.

Problem is, as time went on, the well of Splatterhouse information was running dry. I had to leave West Mansion for over a year because of personal issues between 2005 and 2007, which didn't help matters any, and by March of 2008, I was getting ready to pack it in. Clearly, I'd said all I could about the series, and as each year passed, it was being more and more forgotten.

Then, on April 22, 2008, came an announcement that totally changed everything. I knew as soon as I heard the news that I was about to become very busy. And I was right...

Part III: A Dream Realized

By early 2008, West Mansion was running on life support. Updates had been very sporadic for a while, and even though the fans were still there, there just wasn't much for me to post. I did what I could, posting whatever news I would find when I got it. It wasn't much, but it was keeping the site active.

Little did I know that events had already been set in motion for the return of Splatterhouse, and that West Mansion was to play a key role in it. On the cover of the June 2008 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, a bombshell was dropped: there was a new Splatterhouse game in development for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and EGM had the exclusive first look at it. After the initial excitement passed, I realized that I was about to become very busy, since West Mansion was the epicenter of the Splatterhouse fan community by this point in time, the age of the Yahoo Group and the "Splatterhouse World Council" now long in the past. West Mansion came off of life support and for the first time in years, I was updating the site every other day with new information. Even better, long-buried information about the original series was unearthed thanks to the new influx of fans, and the site continued to grow.

What I didn't know was that early in development, the first place that the team went to research information about Splatterhouse was West Mansion. The site impressed them so much that when I posted the news of the upcoming game there in April 2008, I got an email from them the very next day:

"Subject: Greetings from Namco

I work in the PR department at Namco Bandai. I wanted to introduce myself as I imagine we'll be in touch a bit in the near future—I see you've picked up that we're working on a new Splatterhouse game. I actually sit right across from the game's producers here and we've all been checking out your site since we kicked off the project. It's pretty impressive and definitely the best Splatterhouse fan site out there. After this EGM issue has been out for a little while hopefully we can work together on some Q&As, etc. to get your set up with some cool content for your site. In any case, feel free to contact me any time if you have questions or requests."

As you can imagine, that email made my day. As I put it to the members over on The Third Moon (aka T3M), "Never did I dream that Namco themselves would actually be contacting me about this! This is incredible!" After a hearty round of congratulations, we continued to discuss the possibilities of how we might be able to affect the game. As it turned out, Namco Bandai was very open to suggestions from the fans, and the team working on Splatterhouse began to check out The Third Moon to see what they were saying. After the news was posted on the site, the fans started showing up on T3M in droves, all eager to talk about their hopes for the new game. I passed along their suggestions, along with my own, and several of them were used in the game.

That was just the first awesome thing that happened to me because of my association with Namco Bandai. For the first time in my life, I was actually able to influence something in a videogame—and not just any game, a Splatterhouse game. It was an incredible feeling, and a high I'm still riding on and off to this day.

Despite the game dropping off the radar in late 2009/early 2010 due to the switch from BottleRocket to in-house development at Namco Bandai, the team continued to keep me in the loop, producer Dan Tovar even going as far as to get me VIP passes to the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival XII in Worcester, Massachusetts. The festival was one of the many metal shows around the country that Namco Bandai was sponsoring under the Splatterhouse name. Having never received the VIP treatment before, the festival was quite the experience for me. I wrote an article detailing my experience, which I then posted on West Mansion after receiving the go-ahead from Namco Bandai's PR department.

The months zipped by after that, and on November 23rd, 2010, Splatterhouse was released to a tidal wave of indifference and hostility from the mainstream gaming press. With few exceptions, the major review sites absolutely slagged the game, and did so without mercy. The average gamer that frequents those sites took their word as gospel, as usual, not even bothering to give the game a rent and form an actual opinion about it. Instead, they parroted what they'd read and moved on to the latest Call of Duty game, forgetting about Splatterhouse as soon as they'd found out about it.

I played Splatterhouse and enjoyed it, and ultimately gave the game a good review, but I was just one little, relatively unheard voice among many louder ones that felt the game was terrible, and weren't shy about voicing that opinion. Splatterhouse seemed destined to go down in history as a failed reboot, although it eventually settled into "cult classic" status, once the release hoopla and scathing reviews were in the past.

Splatterhouse's release, though, was the beginning of the end for West Mansion. Things remained active in the Splatterhouse community for a while after Splatterhouse 2010's release, but slowly, the fans began drifting away. There was no new support for the game, as Namco had relegated it to the garbage can, and eventually - aside from a few diehards - the fans moved on.

This time the well had run dry. There was nothing new to post on West Mansion. So finally, I made a decision I'd been considering for some time - I was leaving down the site and moving on. It had been ten years since I started the site, which is an eternity in internet time. I felt it was finally time to pass the torch and have some fresh blood come in to take the reigns, someone that would continue to update it and keep it going, but those plans fell through, as did a planned site redesign (better late than never, I guess). On the tenth anniversary of the site's debut, 6/21/2011, I officially put the site into archive-only status and took a break.

One year later, I started West Mansion Facebook. I was feeling nostalgic and wanted to see if I could pull the existing fanbase back together, as well as bring new fans into the fold. The page gained some traction over time, and eventually evolved into what it is now. But still, there wasn't much in the way of news to report. There was the occasional announcement, such as the inclusion of the arcade Splatterhouse as part of the Namco Museum for the Switch, but these were few and far between.

Eventually I decided I needed to make my own news. As I was already working on the Hardcore Gaming 101 digest The Guide to Retro Horror, West Mansion Facebook seemed the perfect place to talk about it. Everyone seemed pretty enthused about seeing Splatterhouse and other favorite retro horror series covered in a book, so I kept them all posted - and as you know, the book was released in October 2018, and is currently available on Amazon. On top of that, I was finally able to say that I'd officially written the book on Splatterhouse.

But even then, it wasn't the end...